“It all started in 2019. We wanted to create a workshop for bereaved staff members to support them through their grief journey while at work. I got in touch with a trainer from IHF. I never thought that this training would become so important so soon afterwards. I was working in People Development at Technological University Dublin at the time. My background is in psychology and I was always interested in supporting people to help them thrive, particularly at work. This is why I thought I would take up a new and, at the time, unusual training.
IHF offered a wonderful service where they provide workshops for bereaved people in the workplace. It is designed to help them through the grieving process, but it’s also great for people working in management to understand what people go through while grieving at work. It gives tools and advice on how to help with the process.
Since the pandemic, there has been an obvious shift in perspective about how important this type of training is. Just having witnessed one of these workshops, it instantly struck me that most people, including myself, didn’t really understand how grief works. There is this idea out there that when you lose somebody you are devastated for a while and then things slowly get easier and, after some time, life just goes back to normal. That’s not the case with everybody. Grief is a very personal experience and everyone goes through it in their unique way. It’s normal to feel fine one day and then it hits you again like the first day of loss, a week later. As a team, we were keen to start providing this training because we saw the huge potential that would benefit our colleagues.
During the second year of lockdowns in 2021, we provided our first grief management workshop online. I felt prepared as we had offered this workshop to staff many times, but never online. I was aware that people may be keen to talk about their experiences and that some people can get quite upset during these sessions. We had about 25 people joining us for this first online session.
I will never forget it because of the absolute outpouring of grief we saw that day. Due to COVID-19, everyone from the group had a recent experience of losing someone, including myself. I was going through my own bereavement after losing my father in 2020. I had a whole new understanding of grief from the added trauma of not being able to hold his hand during the months leading up to his passing in the hospital.
During that special session, I found myself being one of the participants in the workshop. It was a collective healing experience. Some of us still regularly keep in touch with each other. It was an opportunity for people to express their feelings – a safe space. Using what we learned, we designed a six-session course on different aspects of grief. This gives participants a space to open up, which in turn can create a very tight-knit connection between the participants. It’s a lovely bonding experience.
I think the work IHF does is incredible and it’s been an honor to work with them and offer that type of support. Also, to know that together we can make a difference in people’s lives by giving them that space and that special connection where the process of letting go could begin. It’s a weirdly beautiful privilege to be in the position of helping people going through their journey with grief.”
Read more about Grief in the Workplace
Melody’s interview is part of a series of seven interviews by Humans of Dublin with individuals who are either beneficiaries of or contributors to the work of IHF.